The fourth installment of Doomsday Clock drops today and it’s all about enlightenment. Rorschach gets all the attention with key flashbacks so as to completely reveal who he is and why he’s helping Adrian Veidt (aka Ozymandias). If you came into this week looking for answers, you will not be disappointed.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The series you thought you’d never see reaches its fourth issue with a shocking revelation about the aftermath of Ozymandias’ actions and how they reach into even the darkest corners of the DC Universe. Don’t miss the latest chapter by the acclaimed team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank!
Why does this matter?
Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson are giving us a true sequel to Watchmen, which is a hard thing to ignore! Alan Moore’s original work is one of the greatest stories ever told and to see DC Comics carrying that story forward while integrating classic characters like Batman is a huge undertaking you can’t look away from. So far the story has intrigued and the art is knock-out genius, so why not continue?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Prepare yourself, readers, because this issue is all about Rorschach — or in this case, the new Rorschach. The last few issues have given us hints of his identity, but now we know for sure. The identity of this character has been one of the most interesting mysteries so far partly due to the very important death of the original Rorschach in Watchmen. It’s clear Geoff Johns is aware of that and it’s why Reggie needs an entire issue devoted to him. This issue delivers on many aspects — how he’s related to a key Watchmen character, how he gained his fighting skills, and why he’s a bit cuckoo. In the grand scheme of things, Johns gives this character good purpose and motivation, effectively making him a character that’s necessary more than ancillary.
There is also a strong message about enlightenment and never giving up even when it appears there’s no way out. It’s revealed Reggie is institutionalized due to the alien at the end of Watchmen and it’s in this prison he gains inspiration. Through papers, his father wrote he also learns his father never gave up on even the darkest, most twisted souls. This is a key element of the character and it’s written in a way so that it’s genuine. This is especially clear in the final few pages as we see Reggie decide to forgive, at least for now, because there is a goodness in him.
Gary Frank and Brad Anderson continue to put on a clinic with this series. The 9-panel layout is one of the more cinematic ways of telling a comic book story because it allows the creators to let the images do the talking. There are other layouts in this book, but they are used sparingly, which helps pace the book and be more impactful when the time is right. There are many close-ups in this issue and these panels help the reader relate to the characters and understand their anguish. You’ll also find yourself lingering, even on the smallest of panels, because Frank puts so much detail into them.
It can’t be perfect can it?
We are now in the bi-monthly phase of this series which can draw your focus to story progression since we’re waiting even longer for each chapter. This issue delivers on answers and character work for Rorschach, but there’s no doubt the plot doesn’t push forward in the slightest. I found myself wondering about the Comedian, for instance, who has barely been introduced up until this point. Superman, who was heavily used in the marketing of this series, also hasn’t had more than a cursory scene in this series up till now. Is this issue’s focus on Rorschach important? Yes. Could we use a bit more bigger picture story beats? Definitely.
Is it good?
Enter the wonderful world of Rorschach in this important installment of Doomsday Clock. The series has been incredibly rewarding and this issue is another example of that. Geoff Johns shows he’s one of the best character writers of today.